“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
~Jeremiah 17:9, NLT
Learn all you can about your own heart, and when you have learned all you can, remember that you have seen but a few yards into a pit that is unfathomable.
~Robert Murray McCheyne
If you know me well, you know I love Luke 15 and the story of the two sons. I am convinced that there is more gospel in this story than any other that Jesus told. Years ago, probably forty or more, I did a week long revival at my home church and I preached from Luke 15 in every service. The story is known popularly as the STORY OF THE PRODIGAL SON but it could be called, THE STORY OF THE LOVING FATHER. Trust me, it has a lot more to say about God’s infinite grace than it does our sin. All have sinned and come exceedingly short of the perfection we see in Jesus. The prodigal, in the story, represents the immoral and overt sinner; the elder brother represent the moral covert sinners. Evil can wear either face, moral or immoral. The prodigal came to his senses and realizes his sin against his good, good father. The elder brother had cloaked his wicked heart with pretensive obedience to his father. He was covering his vice with pretended virtue. He was mean spirited and hateful. He labored in the fields not to honor his father but feed and fuel his own selfish ambition. There is not greater evil than to pretend to be good. The elder brother was self-serving and exuding with pride. Morality can become a great hindrance to fellowship with the Father.
Jesus was not attracted to morality or self-righteousness. Jesus on rare occasions did lunch with the moral; he hung out with sinners. Jesus is attracted to the broken, the hurting, to those in despair. The huge advantage that prodigals have is their realization of their sinful condition. Prodigals, as a general rule, don’t try to hide their sin. The Pharisees, for whom the story was intended, were moralist who made a profession out of masking their wicked hearts. Jesus told the Pharisees in Luke 11…“You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness!” Jesus gave a more extensive list in Mark 7…For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” I highlighted the ones I struggle with most. Dana Ortland said, “The godliest octogenarians I know feel a sense of deep and desperate despair which I call wretchedness.” Octogenarians are people in their 80’s. I am in my seventies and I feel a growing sense of my own wretchedness. It is the surprise of my life. I am battling things I thought were dead. When I read the following quote by John Newton’s, I felt the healing balm of Gilead…“The life of faith seems easy when you talk to others about it, but in practice, it is very difficult, and my advances are so slow, that I hardly dare say I get forward at all.” I want to close with a poem by John. I can’t read it without tears…
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and ev’ry grace,
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.
‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer,
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.
I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request
And, by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins and give me rest.
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in ev’ry part.
Yea, more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe,
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Humbled my heart and laid me low.
“Lord, why is this,” I trembling cried;
“Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?”
“’Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.”
“These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”
My good friend and neighbor Harold Thompson had an accident yesterday evening and was med-flighted to HH. It is our understanding that is is stable. He did sustain injury to a leg. We are praying for Harold to be OK. He and I were going to Huntsville last Wednesday and he canceled due to the clean up crew that was coming to restore his yard. Harold is a good man. We have been good friends for a long time.
Worked in the garden some yesterday evening and our garden is as dry as a powder keg. We could use a little rain. I even moved the ditches without getting stuck.
Have a good day and thanks for reading the blog.